Let me start off by saying that nothing has liberated me from my internal struggles with step-motherhood like this book has. It has allowed me to feel okay about how I feel. Before my marriage I knew I was going to need some good advice on step-mothering so I bought a book on it. (And many others since) Regrettably, it was not this book as it was not yet published. THIS is the book you need. This book was written by a stepmother, for stepmothers. A negative review of this book could only come from someone who has not experienced step-motherhood!
Since many won't read this review in its entirety, I must get this out right now...If you are contemplating marriage to a man with children then let me share a secret that no one shared with me... There isn't anything fun about a step family, and to elaborate, there is nothing fun about being a stepmom. I thought that step-motherhood was a mission I could undertake and I thought my gain was going to be far greater than my loss. I assure you... I was wrong!! No one warned me AT ALL of what I was facing and I am straight up pissed off about that. Being a step-mother makes for a difficult, lonely life and it doesn't ever feel like a real family. So I hate to sound bitter here, but the fact is, I am bitter. Save yourself the heartache. This is not what marriage (or family) was intended to be. Read this book and take heed! If you are not moved to seriously reevaluate your decision to marry this man, then you are a hopeless optimist. You will, throughout your marriage, be able to relate to damn near every sentence in this book.
Stepmonster - Even the title might scare you from reading it. Who would want to admit that they might be a Stepmonster? And you could certainly never let anyone see you reading this book. I bought this book instead of getting it from the library as I normally would to avoid the embarrassment and shame I would feel if the librarian might wonder if I were really a Stepmonster. I bought a book cover so I could read it in public places. And this book encompasses that reality in and of itself. I am of the fortunate step mothers who have 'good' step kids. And rarer yet: 'good, teenage, step-daughters'. Yet I still find myself feeling these step-monsterish feelings, which has lead me to feel horrible about myself and doubt the heart of what I know to be true...I am a good person.
My best friend is a step mom also,(Thank God)and I told her 2 things about this book before I was even 3 chapters into it.
1) Wednesday has been reading my journal. She has pegged my sentiments down to the quotation marks when I write about my 'family'.
2) Outside of our honest communication with each other, reading this book is the most therapeutic thing I have experienced since becoming a step-mom. It is important to have other stepmothers to talk to because no one except another Stepmom can truly understand and surely never show sympathy or compassion for an evil (or not so evil) Stepmom.
Stepmothers don't get permission to feel anything less than never-ending love and understanding toward their step-kids. Yet those very step-kids are almost expected to dislike and reject their stepmothers, and understood if they do. All the while our husbands and the rest of society expect the adult (us, even if the children are also adults) to take the high road in the face of the steady pain that is inflicted upon us. Our step children are never expected to love us like they love their mothers (or even like us) but we stepmothers are not offered any clemency if we do not love our step children like we would (or do) love our own, and God forbid we don't even like them. Why?!?! If it weren't for the fact that I am the older of the 2 of us I would never be expected to accept such an injustice or demonstrate such pure sacrifice. Absurd! But there is no doubt that this is our reality.
Wednesday also touches on the fact that our husbands contribute to our pain as much and sometimes more than the kids themselves; either by excusing or defending his child's actions, disregarding our feelings, not acknowledging our hurt, blaming us for not possessing the ability to bond or for not trying hard enough, regularly placing their children's needs before ours, or taking their side in a disagreement. This makes for a lonely, sad and unfulfilling marriage at the very least. But more likely adds to that, anger, regret, resentment, hopelessness & misery that you may have otherwise never had to experience if you had married a man who loved you first and foremost.
I still have genuine moments of admiration for his children. They really are good kids, with good hearts. The truth is that if they were not my step-kids I could be free to love them for the wonderful spirits they are. But their mere position in my life and mine in theirs creates a barrier to that flow and serves as a daily reminder that I did not come first and there is nothing that can change that reality...Ever!
Bleak as it may be, I have found it to be 100% accurate. I felt validated at every turn of the page. By the end of the book I felt more human than monsterish, and that, my friend, hasn't been the case in over 5 years. Thank you, Wednesday, for that invaluable gift. Your book has allowed me to love me again!